VARIATION and big spreads in cattle performance and carcase data is a big challenge for the beef industry as a whole, and it was a large trend in the feedback trial.
Speaking at the NSW Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial presentation dinner, trial analyst Jeff House of Jeff House Livestock, Forbes, said there was a huge spread in the three main areas of the competition; feedlot entry, feedlot performance and carcase, as well as in the overall team profitability.
On entry 81 per cent of cattle hit the weight and fat compliance target, with 92pc the right weight and 88pc hitting the fat mark.
"Interestingly given the season, there were a few out the top end for fat," Mr House said.
"Comparing the induction compliance over the 11 years, this year the average was a little bit back on previous (399kg) and there was a big spread of cattle going in.
"From the heaviest (258kg) to the lightest (526kg) animal there was a big spread."
With an average daily weight gain of 2.32kg per head per day, there was a big spread in feedlot performance with animals gaining less than 1kg/day and others that have gained at more than 3.2kg/day, according to Mr House.
"There was a massive spread in performance, but a majority of animals fell in the middle range that goes from 1.80 to 2.8kg/day. A kilogram per head per day is a massive difference in performance and profitability," he said.
"From the data the cattle have performed well on average, but each year we see a really big spread and difference from lowest to highest animals - which is a big challenge for our industry as a whole.
"The feedlot has done a great job at maintaining and getting good increases in average daily gain (ADG), but that comes back to breeders and entrants as well.
"We are seeing the right types of cattle going into the trial - the animals that are going to grow for the full 100 days, so the ADG are up."
Aiming for a carcase weight of 370kg to 400kg with between 12 and 20ml of fat, 13pc of animals hit the optimum carcase specifications which was back from 20pc last year.
"75pc of carcases fell into the broader specifications of 330kg to 420kg carcase weight and between 10 and 32ml of fat, which is down slightly on last year," Mr House said.
"There was quite a number on the light side in terms of weight, but fat was really good - a few were lean but majortiy have fallen in fats specs, but didn't have the weight at the end.
"The 2020 average weight is around 350kg with the average a bit below the optimum, but again big spreads."
Mr House said with a big spread in entry weights going onto feed and a big spread in ADG, it is not surprising it is multiplying out and we are getting the same sort of spread in carcase weights.
"From an industry point of view these are still big challenges," he said. "The more we can tighten that spread up the better it is for the entire industry.
The lean meat yield average for 2020 was 55.9pc, which is on par with last year, but the range was 48pc to 64pc.
From quality point of view, using the MSA Index as a guide, the trial average was the same as last year at 54.5.
"But again bit spreads," he said. "It great to see only a handful were ungrades, and majority of carcases sit around 54 to 55 average number, with a number heading off on the positive side.
Marbling has quite an impact on the MSA Index, according to Mr House, and the trial usual doesn't see heavy levels of marbling with the target around a Aus-Meat marble score (MS) of two which is the optimum for the Riverina Premium Beef brand.
"There was an increasein the number gone MS 2 compared to previous years," he said.
"The average was an Aus-Meat MS of 1.5 or MSA MS of 387, which is a slight incerease and from a genetics point of view is a sign we are heading right direction."
Mr House said the competition target is to get as many carcases to qualify for the Teys Riverine Premium Beef brand, and this year 42pc qualified.
"This is quite a sizeable increase on other years," he said.
"The genetics of animals coming through is meaning more are meeting our target brand."
With animals only counted once, plenty of Angus cattle met the Riverine Premium brand that would have also met the Teys Certified Premium Black Angus brand.
"12pc of Angus cattle didn't quite make Riverine Premium but were eligible for the Teys Black Angus brand," Mr House said. "41pc went Riverine Classic beef and then 5pc were no brand."
The profitability figures of the trial cattle really extended out the variation seen in animals and the spread in the performance of animals right from the state.
"From the worst to the best performing teams, there was a $710 per head difference in profitability - that is enormous," he said. "This includes the lost animals, take those out and you still have over $600 worth of variation.
"What we see, as cattle and grain prices and everything has increased over the years, is that figure has blown out and continues to increase with additional costs involved. Rather than the figures getting smaller, it has increased."
From an industry point of view, Mr House said the producers need to work on clipping the edges and bringing some of the lower teams up.
"How can we try and reduce some of the variation of animals? That is the real challenge for industry," he said.